Walton, Bruch

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bruch,Walton
WORKS: Viola Concerto,Concerto for Violin and Viola; Romance for Viola; Kol nidrei
PERFORMER: Yuri Bashmet (viola), Victor Tretiakov (violin); LSO/André Previn, Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63292 2
The viola is no longer the Cinderella of string instruments, thanks to such composers as Hindemith, Schnittke, Britten and Berio, but it was Walton who, in 1927, composed the first significant work for the viola since Berlioz’s Harold in Italy of 1834. Max Bruch also wrote for it; like Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante for violin/viola duo, he composed a concerto for viola and clarinet in 1911, with an alternative version substituting violin for clarinet. A short Romance had appeared in 1885, while Kol nidrei for cello also had a version for viola. All these works appear on this excellent disc and highlight the instrument’s strengths and weaknesses in the capable hands of Bashmet, currently one of its greatest exponents. His Walton concerto brings out the haunting and bashful moments (excuse the pun) – the viola can so easily be hidden among orchestral textures – playing his best in the alternately skittish and passionate finale. Previn, a dedicated Waltonian, is the sympathetic accompanist, while Järvi leads the excellent LSO in Bruch. The Bashmet/Tretiakov blend has a seamless, creamy sound. All the works (particularly the Romance) have an unending stream of melody, deliciously phrased and balanced yet given in unrestrained, justifiably Romantic interpretations. Highly recommended to lovers of tunes. Christopher Fifield